Bamboo Flooring - Engineered Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo Flooring- Engineered flooring: bamboo floors have the look, feel, and many of the characteristics of hardwood materials yet they are actually made from a type of grass. Bamboo is a perennial evergreen which is also a member of the true grass family. It is grown primarily in southern and eastern Asia where it is an important part of the local economy. Therefore to obtain bamboo boards a complex manufacturing process is involved, totally different from the classical logs slicing as we know it.
How Bamboo Flooring Is Made
Strand Woven Bamboo Flooring: first the stalks of the bamboo plant are sliced into thin strips. Then the material will be boiled, or dipped in borax, then shredded into fibres and mixed with an adhesive. The fibres are pressed together into blocks. Once the blocks are formed they are cut into plank sizes, thoroughly sanded, and a lacquer finish is applied with a preceding coat of stain if needed.
Solid Bamboo Flooring: this type of bamboo flooring is manufactured in a complex process that begins by slicing the stalks of the plants into thin strips of a certain length. The outer skin is removed, and the strips are boiled in boric acid to remove any starches that may be present. The material is then laid out to dry.
The natural bamboo has a soft, light tan colour. It can be darkened using a process known as carbonization. This is where the raw material is steamed using a controlled blast of pressure and heat which causes its surface to take on a darker, richer hue. Unfortunately this process can also reduce the durability and hardness of the bamboo. Whether carbonized or not, the bamboo slices are then kiln dried.
The strips of bamboo are then coated in an adhesive resin, and are then pressed together either horizontally, with the flat strips laying atop one another, or vertically, with the strips stood on end and pressed together from either side. This presses the individual strips together into a solid and durable plank which is then planed and sanded and a lacquer finish is applied with a preceding coat of stain if needed.
Engineered Bamboo Flooring: with engineered bamboo the stalks are still sliced, treated, and adhered together as is done for solid bamboo flooring. However after this is complete, the solid planks are then sliced down into thin horizontal layers. These slices are then installed on a backing material such as plywood or fibreboard using heat, pressure, and adhesive.
Important aspect: The urea-formaldehyde adhesive used in the process of bonding together the bamboo fibres emits volatile organic compounds, known as VOC’s which can be harmful to the quality of the air in an interior space. The amount of adhesive used, and its toxic effects, will vary depending on the manufacturer of the material. In some cases the VOC’s emitted will be less than those found in manufactured carpeting. For this reason it is important to find a reputable flooring dealer that is trustworthy so that you can be sure that your bamboo was produced according to the highest environmental standards.
A brief description of the work involved
Our bamboo floors fitting is designed to go above the industry standards and to produce exceptional results. Beside the common solutions, we developed our own special techniques. Bellow we provide a description of a comprehensive fitting service.
Furniture: many times we are asked to work having the bigger furniture items around. Indeed this requires extra care on our behalf so if possible we try to stack the lighter items over the heavier ones and move them in the safest area. Of course polyethylene dust sheets are used to cover the furniture, fireplaces, builtin cabinets and shelves etc.
Subfloor types and checking: for a Bamboo boards flooring the subfloor, especially it's state, has the same critical importance are the foundation has for a building. Always a proper assessment is done before starting the the wok and after removing the existing covering (if it is the case). Mainly there are 2 types of subfloors: wooden or mineral. The wooden subfloors are made of pine boards, chipboard, plywood or osb and the mineral ones are usually screeds.
Existing covering removal: there are just a few floor coverings suitable to be considered sound subfloors for fitting a new hardwood floor over. For this reason we have to remove them. Most encountered are carpet, laminate flooring, vinyl, ceramic tiles, old floating or glued wooden floors. For each one of these we choose the best suitable removal method to minimize the damages on the subfloor.
Subfloor checking and preparation: this stage is so neglected and underestimated by many yet it's failure means the failure of the new dark engineered floor. On each project we take enough time and insist in dealing properly with this stage. So, we have many dangers to cope with: damp in the floor and walls, rotten joists and/or boards, cracked or missing boards, loose areas of screed, uneven screed and many, many, many more.
If the desired surface to be covered with a Bamboo boards floor is made of screed or concrete and is situated on the ground level or below we will strongly recommend to have a liquid DPM (damp proofing) rolled all over the surface. The chances to have a damp infiltration during the lifespan of your floor are very high so why not to be on the safe side. We apply this case also for recently done screeds which still contain residual humidity.
The screed subfloors tend to present higher areas, "humps" which will be grinded. The cracked areas or lower ones as well as the loose ones will be repaired with epoxy mortar (water free).
For wooden floors all loose or squeaky boards will be secured. If we encounter a structural issue and if it's local we will deal with it otherwise this might generate an additional stage of work from a building company.
Sound proofing: at this stage when the subfloor is totally accessible we can work the sound proofing or impact sound reduction. Soon a blog post will accompany this stage for more details.
Skirting removal or undercutting: after we have the subfloor totally prepared the skirting will be undercut or carefully removed to avoid as much as possible damages to the upper part of the wall. The undercutting process is very accurate due to our dedicated equipment and for so many times it provided a much better joint with the new floor than replacing it with a new skirting.
Doors and doorframes: now the doorframes will be undercut too so the new hardwood boards will be neatly fitted under. Also the doors will need adjustment as the new floor height will stop them from moving. Thus they have to be taken off, trimmed only with the required height and hanged back.
Setting the alignment and the starting board: this is again a critical point for which we once again take the time to get all the measurements right. All the data is calculated, analysed and the best solution is chosen. Now we can cut the first board. If this one is right then all the floor will be right at the end. Usually the floor will be aligned according to the natural source of light. The aim for this procedure is to obtain a symmetrical floor against all walls as well as parallel with all of them. Indeed, due to the walls layout, corner angles and walls curvature we can't achieve our aim on all sides. Because of this we measure from different perspectives so to ensure the most visible areas will look as you would like to.
Fitting the bamboo floor: after so much preparation it's time to start fitting the floor. According to the agreed method of fitting we lay the underlay or start spreading the adhesive. We have the starting board prepared and from this we construct the floor. The boards which tend to slightly bounce up and down will be additionally secured. Still, if the floor is fitted floating, expect a degree of resilience. Thus we strongly recommend to opt for the glued down method (with flooring adhesive). Also when fitting the expansion gap will be considered all around the perimeter. A signature of our crafted floors are the end joints. A lot of attention is paid to this particular detail to avoid having any 2 of them to close or to finish a row with a short piece of board. Because of this we get so many headaches with the poorly manufactured wood coming from southeast Asia in packs with a huge variety of lengths (the worst encountered case was with 14 different lengths)
Precision: by using different techniques we managed to reduce the number of additional mouldings used for a floor. These are another mark of our floors:
- precision cuts along the patio doorframes
- seamless joint with tiled areas (when the ceramic tiles are cut in a straight line)
- special remaking of the exposed edges of a board (i.e. along the balustrade base rail)
- precision cutting around integrated elements (i.e. floor sockets)
Integrating a small step: many homes have had improvements over time like extensions added. Due to given conditions the added space may have a subfloor which is lower than the main floor. This situation creates a breaking line in the continuity of the floor and by this the aim of creating a bigger space might not be achieved. We have created a solution to integrate the step in such a way that actually it becomes a discreet design feature.
Frames: seamless integrated frames are proofs of craftsmanship. You may choose to have them around the fireplace or to integrate an entrance doormat. The possibilities don't stop here and we would really enjoy to hear your ideas.
Fitting the skirting or beading: as the floor is now finished and if the skirting was removed earlier on, is the time to fit the new skirting. After the fitting is done the workmanship of a painter will be required to fill all the gaps against the walls and sometimes at corners which are to deviated from the correct angle.
Thresholds (door trims): are used to join the new floor with the adjacent floor coverings (carpets, tiles, vinyl etc). We will match them as much as possible with floor colour so to achieve seamless blending. A proper threshold has to be fitted under the closed door, yet so many times the adjacent floor covering ends to much inside or comes to much forward. When possible adjustments are done on all sides to ensure the best finish.
Furniture back & felts: now all is done, the equipment loaded and the new floor thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned. We will stick felt pads under the furniture and will rearrange it as it was initially.
As a few notes about fitting bamboo floor:
- Our state of the art cutting equipment will be connected to dust extractors. Despite all these a measure of chips and sawdust will result as they are blown away by the circular saw blades especially.
- Also it is noisy. This is due once again to the circular saw blades when cutting, and not only.
- It is best to be cautious, so according to the site conditions, wood type and source, the acclimatisation may be required which means to leave the wood inside the fitting area for about 2 days (engineered) or 7 days (solid). We recommend trustworthy suppliers which will deliver your floor with the moisture content according to agreed standards.
We hope that now you have a more in-depth information about how to opt for a Bamboo Flooring- Fitting bamboo floors.